Mary Carol Cloutier

Bridging the Gap, Breaching Barriers

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From its very beginning, in June 1842, the Protestant Mission in Gabon included men and women of African descent--African Americans, Americo-Liberians, and West Africans--all teachers and advanced students from the Cape Palmas (Liberia) Mission, who transferred with the mission to its new location on the Gaboon estuary. All came voluntarily and wholeheartedly. They served as teachers, evangelists, preachers, and printers, building the early foundation of Christianity in Gabon. Many eventually returned to their homelands, but others stayed for the duration of their lives, assimilating into the local community.

This book celebrates the contribution of persons of African descent who served with the mission from 1834 until 1891, a time of complex and controversial race relations in America, which seeped into mission relations overseas. Private missionary correspondence and journals reveal the interrelationships, roles, and contributions of these individuals, and also the underlying perceptions of nationality, race, and gender.

One must grieve the injustices evident in the stories, yet marvel at the giftedness, faith, determination and commitment of those who served, often with no official recognition. I introduce you to Mr. B. V. R. James, Lavinia Sneed, Charity Sneed Menkel, Mary Harding, and others--may their stories inspire you!
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380 printed pages
Original publication



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